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. pascal was the son of a tax collector, and to help his father, he invented the first digital calculator. his deep interests were in both philosophy and mathematics. together, fermat and pascal were widely regarded as two of the most powerful mathematical intellects of their time. although they never met, in 1654 they exchanged a series of letters that most academics today agree was the foundation for the modern theory of probability. their correspondence started after a friend, the gambler chevalier de mere, called upon pascal to get help with a nagging problem. de mere asked, "how would two gamblers fairly split the pot if their game was interrupted before being played to the finish?" this became the famous problem of points. until fermat and pascal took it on, the various solutions that had been proposed had been pretty unsatisfactory. in their correspondence, fermat and pascal addressed the problem by considering all the possible future plays of the game. by assuming them all to be equally likely, we can compute how much each person deserves when the game is interrupted, like for jer
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